Thousands of workers take to the Delhi streets against Centre’s labour policies
The strike, across the industrial areas of Delhi, was called by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), as part of a two-day nationwide stir against the policies of the Central government.Updated: Jan 09, 2019 09:49 IST
Thousands of labourers and factory workers took to Delhi streets in a citywide strike on Tuesday, demanding the implementation of labour laws such as the grant of minimum wages and safety at the workplace in the national capital.
The strike, across the industrial areas of the city, was called by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), as part of a two-day nationwide stir against the policies of the Central government.
Although the strike was to register protest against the alleged anti-labour laws being implemented across the country, union leaders in Delhi and the national capital region (NCR) took up local issues such as safety of workers, following a string of incidents in which workers were killed or injured due to a lack of safety measures at the workplace.
The most recent incident in this regard is the death of seven workers following a blast at an illegal factory in west Delhi’s Moti Nagar on January 3.
Scores of workers took to the streets waving red flags and raising slogans such as “stop anti-worker policies.”
The rally took place in Mayapuri, Okhla phase-I, II, III, Kirti Nagar, Naraina, Udhyog Nagar, Bawana, Narela, Madipur, Nangloi, GT Karnal Road, Badli, Mangolpuri, Wazipur, Central Ware Housing Corporation (Ghazipur) and Patparganj, among others, comprising the formal and informal industrial sectors.
Even as the protesters did not report for work, the majority of the factory establishments in the city remained open, while few others were shut for the first half of the day.
However, the larger effect of the strike was seen in west Delhi’s Mayapuri industrial area, where factories mostly manufacture of automobile parts, as at least a half of the 3,000-odd units were shut during the day.
“Business was not affected as such, although some owners might have shut the units for a few hours,” said Rajesh Kumar Gupta, general secretary, Mayapuri Industrial Association.
However, members of the CITU-Delhi wing said that the participation of workers in large numbers shows the anger and resentment towards the lackadaisical approach of the government in implementing labour laws.
“Although minimum wage has been hiked, it is not being implemented in the private sector, where most workers are
employed on a contract basis. The owners do not even respect the apex court order and continue to resist paying the workers their due. The Delhi government is also aware of the fact, but its labour department is not taking any action in the matter,” said Anurag Saxena, general secretary, CITU, Delhi State Committee.
Moreover, workers said there have been numerous incidents of workers being killed in fires in illegal units, yet the owners are able to get away just by paying a minimal fine.
“From the Bawana factory incident, wherein 17 workers were killed in early 2018, to the Moti Nagar incident and others in various parts of the city, there has been no improvement in the implementation of safety provisions. There are several other instances wherein owners do not even keep a record of the workers employed so that they do not have to pay compensation in case of an accident or death. Why is the city government keeping mum on the matter and not fixing the responsibility of the labour department?” said Rajesh Kumar, the general secretary of the Indian Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU), Delhi committee.
First Published: Jan 09, 2019 09:49 IST